After Day 6 of the 2017 Worlds Group Stage, the results were final: the Chinese team Royal Never Give Up were first, and the Korean team Samsung Galaxy were second.
While the crowd cheered in excitement for RNG when they bowed, the South Korean team left the stage with the bitter taste of defeat and disappointment in the end. Being in the second seed was not only a blow to their pride as the best region, but it meant that Samsung had a high chance of facing another Korean team.
In the third and final group draw, Samsung was to fight Longzhu Gaming.
While all the other regions sighed in relief, the LCK did not. Longzhu was the best team in the first seed and Samsung was the best in second. With Longzhu having incredible stats so far, does Samsung even have a chance against the dragon?
2016 World Championship
Last year at Worlds, Samsung Galaxy looked stronger than they do now.
Crown’s Viktor struck fear throughout the tournament when he secured the pick, something that happened often with Crown picking Viktor seven times, the mid lane beast totaled an 86% win-rate. Jhin was a popular AD Carry pick, and Ruler was one of the best in the world on that champion. Olaf and Rek’sai complimented Ambition’s tanky brawler style. CoreJJ enjoys playing damage mages like Karma and Zyra, yet played Tahm Kench to protect Ruler whenever he went too aggressive. Cuvee loved to play mid- to late-game AP champions like Ekko and Rumble, but he had a disgusting Poppy and Jayce that he pulled out halfway to Worlds 2016.
Late-game was Samsung’s strong point. The only game they lost past the 40-minute mark was against SKT during the finals.
So what changed?
2017 World Championship
The LCK third seed doesn’t look as strong recently, and that’s a bad sign for what’s to come.
The 1907 Fenerbahçe game is a good example to observe. With Samsung using Haru instead of Ambition for the first time, Haru’s Ezreal had excellent ganks, counter-jungled when necessary, and roamed frequently. Haru allowed Samsung Galaxy to get a two minute first blood on the ex-LCK player Frozen. Haru did what jungle Ezreal should do: gank lanes and get the laner ahead. Except, Cuvee and Crown weren’t able to carry and snowball their lead into a swift victory. Fenerbahçe won multiple skirmishes and teamfights in a row and take objectives away from Samsung. It was looking grim for Samsung until they quickly kill the Ekko and chip away the tanks’ health. Samsung just marched into the base and demolished each turret in their way for a victory.
The games against Royal Never Give Up were a disaster for Samsung. In the first game against the Chinese team, Samsung could not pick up a single kill. The draft from Samsung allowed RNG to pick up both Jarvan IV and Galio, two champions that can combo their ultimates to deal incredible AoE damage and CC. The RNG four-man gank on Cuvee on the 10 minute mark was an incredible display of controlling to turret aggro. With Uzi blowing up the Samsung members in the 25 minute teamfight and scoring 6 critical attacks on Ambition’s Sejuani in a row, the game was wide open for RNG to take. Samsung scoring no kills in the game was just a glimpse of how much weaker this team was in the current meta.
The second game was a better game for Samsung Galaxy. RNG executed a 5-man gank on bot lane at the 9 minute mark, but the team was too aggressive and gave Samsung two kills and the first blood while getting just a single kill. Samsung was effective at picking off the RNG members with their superior warding, but Royal had the better team fight. Knowing Ambition was taking the Infernal Drake, RNG migrated to Baron, took it, and won the team fight. From there, RNG demolished SSG’s base and won the first seed.
Haru after a stressful game against 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports
But while Samsung Galaxy is a weaker team compared to last Worlds, they are still a smart team.
Against 1907 Fenerbahçe, Samsung decided to not commit too much into certain skirmishes and fights, which stemmed their bleeding until they won in the late game.
Against G2 in the first game, despite being down in kills and trying to find small advantages, Samsung was still ahead in gold because they had better CS than G2. Samsung is not an aggressive team nor do they play for kills. They enjoy farming creeps and grab objectives with their excellent vision game and macro play.
Longzhu Gaming will be a tough opponent for Samsung Galaxy.
The last time these two teams played against each other was during the LCK Summer Season. The two teams had a 1-1 record against each other, but Longzhu dominated Samsung in the last game with a convincing 2-0.
Let’s take a look at the matchups.
Khan showed the world he can play Jayce and destroy laners despite it not being favored in the current meta, but Cuvee has been prioritizing Cho’gath, which helps secure objectives the team contests for. With a 6.4 KDA and a stylish Nasus win, Khan is looking to win the lane game against the 3.8 KDA CuVee.
Ambition is a veteran of the game and Cuzz only joined recently, which Ambition should look to abuse; however, the veteran is not a counter-ganking player naturally. Ambition is a slow jungler and has shown rocky results on his Sejuani, with dominant games with his Kha’zix. Cuzz knows his role on the team and has a 66.7% first blood participation, while Ambition has a shocking 0%. Ambition has a 3.2 KDA and Cuzz has a 6.0 KDA, but who they decide to gank in the early game will matter plenty more than any KDA. The better thinker will come out ahead.
Crown’s laning phase has been weaker than in the past, but he has shown good results on the off-meta Malzahar pick. Bdd is a monster on Ryze, a champion that many players fail to win games with, and I expect to see more of his Ryze in the games to come. Bdd has an astonishing 16.5 KDA compared to Crown’s 3.7 KDA, showing just how much Crown has struggled in his games, either having 0 deaths or the most in any given game. His performance in the Summer Playoffs showed that he easily tilts and is not consistent, and the team needs the feared 2016 Crown that destroyed his opponents with his Viktor picks in his place.
GorillA is more of an engager on his team, but has proven that he can still show results in the Ardent Censer meta. CoreJJ enjoys playing aggressive supports, like Zyra, while we expect to see GorillA on picks like Rakan. CoreJJ sits at a 6.7 KDA and GorillA holds a 5.8 KDA, signaling how much GorillA will sacrifice himself for his team as an engager.
But the real players to look at will be the AD Carries. Both Ruler and PraY have quite different playstyles, but I see them as the top 2 best ADC’s in Quarters. Ruler is one of the best Tristana players in the tournament because she compliments his aggressive playstyle; however, PraY has shown incredible results on Varus and carried Longzhu on his back against Immortals. Unfortunately, Ruler does not look like the player that played in 2016 Worlds. While Ruler has his moments, PraY is a consistent player that shows up in every game. PraY holds a 9.7 KDA compared to Ruler’s 3.6 KDA, but the game will be decided on the performance of these two key players. Will the old Ruler show up, dust off the crown, and dominate his lane? Or will Ruler become prey to his enemy?
Samsung Galaxy has a real challenge ahead of them.
Longzhu Gaming is a favorite to win the tournament, but Samsung Galaxy is a dark horse. Samsung shocked the world by forcing SKT to go to a game 5 last year at Worlds, and I expect that the team is intelligent enough to fix the weaknesses they showed on stage last week. The real question is if they fixed them enough to return to their 2016 form.
While both teams are equal in skill, Longzhu Gaming still has the advantage over them. And even though late game is Samsung’s strongest point, Longzhu is strong enough to beat Samsung in it with their excellent teamfight coordination. While I hold Samsung in high regard, I expect Longzhu Gaming to win in 3-1 fashion.
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